Skip to main content

It's been a week since Occupy Rochester group made their splash with a Zombie March and occupation of Washington Square Park. I finally had a chance to spend some time with them tonight - it was just great.
I wanted to share my field notes from the night. I plan to get out there as often as I can and sending updates on how they are progressing.

For background on the early days of the Occupy Rochester group read here.

For details from their biggest night, which included the Zombie March through downtown and peaceful standoff with Rochester Police Department which ended in 32 arrests read here.

I've been following along on Twitter as things developed with Occupy Rochester, and was impressed with them that night - both the creativity of the Zombie March and their ability to stay positive, using all the right moves of non-violent civil disobedience. (If you follow me on Twitter you'll know I'm a stickler for non-violence and positive engagement as the most effective strategy for lasting success, that night the Occupy Rochester community gave me enormous hope.)

While Occupy Rochester has been building their muscles as a group, I've been busy with my work on Progressive Congress News and helping where I can with Occupy-related activities like Occupy The Boardroom. (I can't take any credit for OTBR - I'm just happy to be a helper bee proud to have found some brilliant and committed folks who have worked their tails off putting together an action that gets right to the heart of what Occupy is about. I'm grateful that they let me be part of their work.) I've had more than a pang or two of wishing I could be more supportive of the work happening right in my own town. Tonight I had a few hours free, so I finally made the trip downtown bearing gifts of apples and bagels and peanut butter (the key foods of any protest I'll tell ya).

I had no idea what to expect at Washington Square Park - whether I would find 4 people or  I'd be walking into a mask wearing festival of anger...
Based on the Twitter contact I knew that at least a few of the folks there would be personable, assuming they were actually there...

So here is what is really going on in Washington Square Park. Brace yourselves.

- They are enormously friendly (there were 35-40 there with more popping in and out)
- The age range is pretty broad 20 - 60ish
- Mostly guys, but as I hung out more and more women appeared, and they are definitely taking an active role and making themselves heard.
- There was not a mask to be found (but there were hats, mittens, scarves and one very cute rose colored ski pants set)
- They have really gotten themselves well organized, with spots for key stuff like the food table, the gear, and the livestream interview zone. They also have figured out how to quickly break things down and be ready to deal with the park curfew.
- I was there less than a minute before the first person asked if I was cold and I ended up with a blanket after the 5th person got worried about me (they don't know how many January protest days I have under my belt yet)
- They are NOT in that park just to have confrontations with police, in fact as soon as the first police officer arrived just after 11pm everyone immediately stepped off of park grounds and onto the sidewalk. They were careful to have representatives talk to the police and make it clear that they were not out to create confrontation. They would much rather work out an amicable arrangement with the city (more on that in a future post)
- They are having the same kinds of conversations that I'm seeing online from other locations and nationally, trying to feel their way through the process of connecting and creating a long term presence. How they manage their park occupation and how they will carry their group presence into the coming winter is very much on their minds, and they are talking it through together.
- They very much want to reach out and connect with the rest of the Rochester community and be as inclusive as possible.
- They are delighting in having a livestream video link to the wider world (I forgot how cool it really is to be able to do that until I saw each of them light up when talking about it.)

So that is Occupy Rochester on a chilly Friday night - a cheerful and engaged bunch of folks determined to talk about solutions to our shared community issues. Whatever you may hear about Occupy from people who aren't there, or who swoop in with an agenda to disparage Occupy for political reasons - right now and right here in Rochester there is a group of ridiculously normal and friendly people just sharing a small patch of space and making plans to make things better for everyone.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they will do tomorrow and beyond.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site